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Friday, September 30, 2016

Strangely enough, the 2012 presidential campaign, expected to be the dirtiest in modern memory, may end up being relatively clean.

That’s because both sides agree that the economy is the central issue and that sideshows like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright aren’t persuasive for voters. Karl Rove and Larry McCarthy, the creator of the infamous Willie Horton ad, think harsh personal attacks against President Barack Obama will backfire, and they’re offering more subtle messages of economic disappointment instead.

Even economic assaults can boomerang nowadays. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, an otherwise strong Obama supporter, dealt the Obama campaign a blow last weekend on NBC’s “Meet the Press” when he said he was “nauseated” by an Obama ad lambasting Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital LLC. The president’s defense of the ad, in which he said “there are folks who do good work” in private equity, was too complicated to be effective.

The controversy surrounding the Bain ad and a proposed Wright ad from a super-PAC backed by Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (AMTD), suggests that when “paid media” in the presidential race ventures out-of- bounds, “free media” will exact a penalty. (House and Senate races are another story.)

We can still expect a misleading and overwhelmingly negative campaign, but the distortions and outright lies will be mostly about the candidates’ records and positions, not their race, religion and standing as patriotic Americans. I don’t mean to be pollyannaish, but that represents a step up from the gutter.

The days when Lyndon Johnson could use the infamous “daisy ad” to suggest Barry Goldwater wanted to blow up the world, or Vice President George H.W. Bush (and Al Gore before him) could exploit the racist Willie Horton story against Michael Dukakis, are over. In 2004, when Swift Boat Veterans for Truth could easily smear John Kerry’s character by distorting his Navy service during the Vietnam War, you couldn’t yet use YouTube and blogs to rebut an ad and even organize a boycott of the sponsors within hours. If the Swift Boat attacks aired today, President George W. Bush would probably be forced to denounce them.

This sounds counterintuitive. After the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, the campaign system is awash in super- PACs and shadowy 501(c)(4)s (dubbed “spooky-PACs” by Stephen Colbert) that allow secret donations. Instead of clearly identifying the origin of the ad (“I’m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message”), the tag lines on the super-PAC ads are from gauzy-sounding outfits (“Restore Our Future”) that few people recognize. When it’s not clear who the attacker is, the old rule in politics that attack ads hurt the attacker as well as the target is rendered obsolete.

  • Kenneth Bailey

    These Super Pacs should be outlawed. Who in their right mind would give corporations “human rights?” What has this country come to? Has the federal court system lost its moral compass not to mention its sense of logic? If the Swift Boat yoyos would have kept out of the slander business we would not have been in a war that our President lied to all of America about. The rationale for going to war was so flawed a grade schooler could have made better choices and we would not have gone through a recession not seen since the Great Depression. Politics have evolved or should I say devoloved into a circus or side show. It goes to show how frightened these little old men in the GOP really are to push for Super Pacs, spooky-PACS, which by the way is reminiscent of a KKK organization, and of course redistricting to sway votes back to the GOP. The GOP is a dead animal or roadkill with all they have done. It is too bad Rove did not spend time in a Leavenworth for his leaking of the Valerie Plame CIA incident. The GOP has bastardized democracy in this great country and have made a mockery of the very notion. I hope they bring up Rove in one of these political ads and his leaking the identity of an active CIA agent and then not serving time for it. Wave the flag and ask is this what we want more of with another GOP president? Or maybe our current service men and women could go to France or somewhere being missionaries instead of going to war? Know anything about that Mittens? You wrote the book on it you brave man. A man’s man.

    • oldtack

      These things have come to pass in our government structure because the citizens of this Country have lost sight of our true identity. This Country does not belong to Super-Pacs. This Country does not belong to the Corporate Industrial complex.This Country does not belong to a Military Industrial Complexs. This Country belongs to WE THE PEOPLE.

      If We the People do not unite together this, OUR Country, will cease to exist as we have always known it. In the term Unite d I mean all factions regardless of race, religion, or political ideaologies. Through the past decades we have witnessed our elected leaders become embedded in the hip pockets of businesses to propect their own “beauracies in Washington. We have to make oue collective voices heard at the ballot boxes to oust these career politicians fron power and we need to make our voices heard against super-pacs and life time appointmants.

      Until We the People unite and act we are all just “blowing in the wind”.

      • Kenneth Bailey

        Oldtack, I would like to agree with you, but “We the People” was taken away from us when the Patriot I & II was passed. When GW passed those two Acts our rights to be safe and secure in our homes went out the window. I feel we will never see our rights reinstated back to us in the future of this Republic which is now evolving into an Autocracy and/or Theological State. These to entities have divided this country so deeply there is no turning back at least in my personal opinion. We have not rights left to us due to the events that have taken place in the last two decades and I believe we have not seen the last of it.

  • DurdyDawg

    Maybe we should get back to honest policy, report the facts and offer past successes as the foundation of the election.. Does that sound reasonable? Not for many unfortunately. What are we doing wasting our dollar(s) at tax time over an IRS alms that indicates it will help the Election by doling out a percentage to each runner if millions are also being provided by interest groups? THOSE IRS contributions should be the ONLY outside dollars toward the Presidential election.. Anything beyond that should come out of each candidate’s pockets and set a ceiling in that respect as well. Otherwise it’s the one that has the most money who wins and that my friend is NOT an election.

    • William Deutschlander

      NOT ONLY is it not an ELECTION, it is not DEMOCRACY!!!!!!!!!!

      PURCHASING ELECTIONS is an ATTEMPT at AUTOCRACY or PLUTOCRACY which RESULTS in a DICTATORSHIP!!!!!!

      The SO CALLED CONSERVATIVES, have morphed into mindless, blind followers of a dogma that is suicidal as regards DEMOCRACY or their own well being!!!!!!

      I live in Pennsylvania where the vast rural expanse of the state is CONSERVATIVE and each year it offers even less opportunity, more poverty, rots and dies a little more. Much like the frog in the warm water that gradually becomes hot enough that the frog dies!

      • DurdyDawg

        Since the electoral college has controlled the elections and set up a goal of ‘X’ amount of (points?) democracy has gone out the window.. How can a popular vote of 20% more to a candidate be over ridden by a top end point value that’s reached by the opponent? At present we’ve (rather they have) been lucky in that the pop vote eventually caught up with the point value.. That it’s been manipulated that way is another story, the fact is.. with the electoral college, the popular vote is secondary to them (not democracy). I really sympathize with you in your State’s problems, that our g’ment would look away while any state suffers is un-american.. I do hope it will get better.

  • there is no way in hell this scum could ever be cleened.

  • widollar

    Over the years we have allowed the special interest groups to own our politicos. The system is sick, badly broken and rotten to the core, and given the power of the one percent, probably cannot and will not be fixed. Powerful people will see to that! Sadly, the middle class will continue to slide backwards with lower wages and less job security and that’s just fine with the one percent crowd!